Imported GG poses health risk to humans – fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – “Not only that imported, frozen round scad (galunggong) is no longer fresh, but also a health risk for consumers because they are often contaminated with formalin to make them last long,” according to the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas), warning the public not to patronize and oppose the importation of 17,000 metric tons of galunggong approved by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“Both DA and BFAR obviously don’t care about the welfare of the people; aside from we will be fed with stale fish (bilasa), our health will be put at risk. It is already a fact that majority of imported frozen marine products especially coming from China are tainted with formalin, a chemical primarily used to preserve cadavers. Just imagine if this chemical will be infused into the food that we eat!” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Scientific studies said that formalin is highly toxic and pose short-term health effects to humans including coughing, wheezing, nausea, irritation of skin, nose, and throat; while long term effect may lead to leukemia and cancer.
The fisherfolk group reiterated its strong opposition against the planned importation of galunggong and other aquatic and marine products. The import-dependent consumption of fish products, according to the group, will completely kill the livelihood of local fisherfolk by further downgrading the value of their catch.
PAMALAKAYA refuted the claim of DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona that relying to importation will stabilize the inflation; wherein fact, price of fish in the market is still controlled by private concessionaires and traders.
“Importation will never be the solution to the ongoing artificial shortage of agricultural products such as fish. Big fish firms, whose production is based on export, monopolize municipal waters and its resources, including galunggong. This incessant drive to increase our exports has depleted not only municipal fish catch but also the fish stock in the sea which lead to our reliance to importation. Small fishers must be provided with better fishing equipments and adequate government support to increase their productivity. The country should also break free from unfair global trade agreements like the World Trade Organization that imposes us to comply with the demand of world market through export-oriented production,” added Hicap.
PAMALAKAYA, together with rice-watchdog Bantay Bigas, will stage a joint picket in front of the DA tomorrow to oppose the unlimited importation of rice and fish through tariffication, and call for a government subsidy and livelihood support for local food producers such as fishers and farmers. ###